Talks are under way between U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem.
The meeting comes as the U-S increases its demands that Israel ease up the military campaign in Palestinian territories.
Powell is expected to push Sharon for more of an Israeli pullback from the West Bank.
He'll also seek an Israeli commitment for talks on the creation of a Palestinian state.
Tomorrow, Powell is scheduled to meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has resigned.
Chavez quit under pressure from military leaders, after a day of violent clashes between troops and anti-government demonstrators.
At least 13 people -- including a newspaper photographer -- were killed.
More than 100 others injured.
The violence erupted on the third day of a general strike called to support Venezuelan oil executives.
Venezuela is a major oil supplier to the U-S,and a work slowdown has seriously cut production.
Health officials in Lynchburg are trying to find the source of an illness that has struck dozens of college students.
The breakout is contained within the Randolph-Macon Woman's College campus, and officials there say the sickness is slowing down.
Richard Lesko has more.
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=01-Michael Kiser/RMWC Director of Media Relations; :11]
[SUPER=01-Joanna Harris/Central Virginia Health District Director; :58]
[OUTQ=RL, News 7, Lynchburg.]
(( Since Sunday, nearly 80 Randolph-Macon Woman's College students and faculty members have come down with varying degrees of the flu-like illness.
[SOT - 12:36:50]
[INQ=We know that...]
((MICHAEL KISER/RMWC DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS; WE KNOW THAT QUITE A FEW STUDENTS SHOWED SYMPTOMS, BUT THAT RANGED FROM STUDENTS WHO HAD A MILD UPSET STOMACH, SLEPT IT OFF AND WENT TO CLASS THE NEXT MORNING, TO STUDENTS WHO TRULY WERE PRETTY ILL.))
[OUTQ=truly were pretty ill.]
Randolph-Macon says no additional cases have been reported to them since Wednesday, and they hope the illness has run its course.
[SOT - 12:35:45]
[INQ=We're greatful to see...]
((MICHAEL KISER/RMWC DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS; WE'RE GRATEFUL TO SEE THE NUMBERS ARE DRAMATICALLY DROPPING OFF, AND NONE LAST NIGHT, NOW THE QUESTION REMAINS HOW DO WE SOLVE THIS MYSTERY...))
[OUT Q=solve this mystery.]
So far, no source of the illness has been found, but health officials say it is probably a virus.
They are looking at the cafeteria as one of several possible sources, but say there is no evidence to pinpoint the origin.
[SOT - 1:25:27]
[INQ=We really didn't see...]
((JOANNA HARRIS/LYNCHBURG HEALTH DEPARTMENT; WE REALLY DIDN'T SEE ANY PROBLEMS AT RANDOLPH-MACON, EVERYTHING LOOKED FINE, WE DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING OUT OF ORDER AT ALL. I THINK THEY ARE TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN, BUT WHEN YOU HAVE THAT MANY PEOPLE IN THAT CLOSE QUARTERS, IT'S VERY EASY TO TRANSMIT THINGS.))
[OUTQ=easy to transmit things.]
Lab results are expected back as early as Friday, and until a source is found, experts say simple hand washing could be the best line of defense against catching the bug.
Richard Lesko, News 7, Lynchburg.))
Governor Mark Warner has signed a bill that may mean the release of some of the Commonwealth's mentally ill.
The law puts a one year cap on the time people found not guilty of misdemeanors by reason of insanity can spend in a mental hospital.
There are 38 such patients locked up in the Virginia mental health system.
This summer, the state mental health department will evaluate those people and determine how many can be freed.
(///// SOT AT :19 /////)
[IN Q=The legislation encompassed within these bills...]
((VAL MARSH/NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL: THE LEGISLATION ENCOMPASSED WITHIN THESE BILLS WILL HELP PEOPLE WHO ARE COPING WITH SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND WILL HELP VIRGINIA MOVE CLOSER TO A MORE HUMANE, MODERN AND EFFECTIVE SYSTEM OF CARE.))
[SUPER=01-Val Marsh/National Alliance for the Mentally Ill;]
[OUT Q=modern and effective system of care.]
Another bill would remove the Department for Rights of Virginians with Disabilities from the executive branch, and make it an independent agency to insulate it from political influence.
It will also be re-named the Office for Protection and Advocacy.
Pittsylvania County authorities are looking for a missing Ringgold woman.
40 year old Carolyn Russell Singleton was last seen around 2 o-clock yesterday afternoon.
She is described as a light- skin black female with black hair and brownish- hazel eyes.
She's 5 foot 6 and weighs approximately 155 pounds.
Singleton may be wearing a brown sweater with orange triangles, black shoes and white socks.
[Take FS Phone Number]
If you have any information, you are asked to call Pittsylvania County Crimestoppers at 1-800-791-0044.
In business news, Low-cost airline Jet Blue begins trading on the Nasdaq later today.
Alexis Christoforous has that story and more in this morning's Marketwatch.
[SUPER=01-Alexis Christoforous/Reporting; :00]
[OUT Q=your local stocks]
((INVESTORS ARE PUTTING OUT THE WELCOME MAT FOR JETBLUE.
THE NEW YORK BASED DISCOUNT CARRIER TAKES FLIGHT TODAY IN ITS INITIAL
STOCK OFFERING. DEMAND IS HIGH AS INVESTORS FLOCK TO ONE OF THE FEW MONEY
MAKING DISCOUNT AIRLINES. JETBLUE WILL TRADE UNDER THE SYMBOL "JBLU" ON
IT'S A PACKED ECONOMIC CALENDAR TO END THE TRADINGWEEK ...
LOOK FOR MARCH RETAIL SALES, THE PRODUCER PRICE INDEX AND THE UNIVERSITY
MICHIGAN'S CONSUMER SENTIMENT INDEX.
ON WALL STREET, THE MARKET HAD ONE OF ITS WORST DAYS OF THE YEAR AS
INVESTORS DUMPED BLUE CHIP NAMES LIKE IBM AND GENERAL ELECTRIC.
THE DOW WAS SINGING THE BLUES, DOWN 205 POINTS - ITS WORST SLIDE SINCE
THE NASDAQ COMPOSITE GAVE BACK ANOTHER 41 POINTS.
THE BIGGEST DRAGS ON THE MARKET:
GENERAL ELECTRIC TANKED 9 PERCENT -PROFITS WERE IN LINE, BUT REVENUE FELL
AND IBM SANK TO A NEW 52 WEEK LOW ON REPORTS THE GOVERNMENT IS LOOKING
ITS PAST ACCOUNTING PRACTICES.
THE NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL GAVE MERRILL LYNCH UNTIL APRIL 19TH
DISCLOSE WHETHER ITS PURSUING INVESTMENT BANKING BUSINESS WHEN IT ISSUES
RESEARCH ON A COMPANY.
AND XEROX HAS SETTLED WITH THE GOVERNMENT OVER FRAUD CHARGES. XEROX WILL
A RECORD 10 MLN DOLLARS TO SETTLE GOVERNMENT CHARGES THAT THE COPIER USED
ACCOUNTING TRICKS TO DEFRAUD INVESTORS AND INFLATE ITS EARNINGS FOR FOUR
TRACK ALL THE PRE-MARKET ACTION AT CBS.MW.COM ... AT THE NASDAQ
I'M AC IN NY.))
(tape tosses to stocks)
Carilion Health System says it will choose three or four insurance partners within the next month.
The self-imposed deadline was April first... but Carilion says the companies need to meet some criteria to be considered.
One of those criteria... being fair compensation for Carilion's services.
At least one major policy writer for Trigon says the two companies can't come to an agreement over what that fair compensation is.
If they can't agree, Burman Clark says that could have a major impact on consumers.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=Potentially what could]
((BURMAN CLARK: POTENTIALLY WHAT IT COULD MEAN IS THAT AN AREA PHYSICIAN COULD BE OUT OF NETWORK, YOU DOCTOR, NO LONGER WOULD BE IN NETWORK, WHICH ULTIMATELY MEANS CONSUMERS ARE GOING TO PAY A LOT MORE OUT OF THEIR POCKETS.))
[SUPER=01-Burman Clark/BB&T Employee Benefits]
[OUT Q=their pockets.]
Carilion says its likely Trigon will remain a partner and even if they don't, Carilion will not turn Trigon patients away.
The Health Care Provider says the idea behind the partnerships is to save money.
[IN Q=It's a way to perhaps]
((BURMAN CLARK: IT'S A WAY TO PERHAPS MANAGE COSTS A LITTLE BETTER, IT'S A WAY TO MAKE SURE FAIR AND ADEQUATE REIMBURSEMENTS FOR OR SERVICES, AND AGAIN, PROTECT THE HEALTHCARE DOLLARS THE COMMUNITY SPENDS WITH US.))
[SUPER=01-Eric Earnhart/Carilion Spokesman]
[OUT Q=with us.]
Carilion expects to chose its partners within the next month.
It's created controversy in Henry County for months.
Yesterday, the school board finally adopted a budget for next year.
[SUPER=03-Henry Co./File Tape]
The school system had to make several cuts to deal with more than a million dollar budget shortfall for next year.
The budget calls for a reduction in staff by more than three percent.
Teachers will get a nearly three percent raise next year but they will also have to pay more in health insurance.
The cuts come less than a month after the school board voted to scrap a plan that would have consolidated and closed several schools to make up for the budget shortfall.
Friends of Washington Park have been working to bring improvements to the green space that once served as a Roanoke city landfill.
Some changes have been made, but members of a Roanoke committee say much more is required.
And Joe Dashiell reports they're taking their concerns to city council.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=The last few years]
[SUPER=01-Freddie Monk/Washington Park Improvement Committee; :16]
[SUPER=01-Evelyn Bethel/Washington Park Improvement Committee; :44]
[OUT Q=JD News 7 Roanoke]
((The last few years have brought improvements to Washington Park.... New playground equipment, and resurfaced courts, for example. Members of the Booker T. Washington Park Improvement and Monument Committee say they welcome those changes, but believe more work is badly needed.
[SOT FREDDIE MONK 03:35]
[IN Q=We were promised]
((FREDDIE MONK: WE WERE PROMISED THAT THE SHELTER DOWN HERE ON THE LOWER LEVEL WOULD BE BUILT LAST YEAR, AND THEY SAID IT WOULD BE THIS YEAR. HERE IT IS SPRINGTIME, SUMMER TIME IS COMING, STILL HAVEN'T GOTTEN IT. SO THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF PROMISES.))
[OUT Q=a lot of promises.]
The committee was created at the city manager's request and after more than a year of study, members presented their recommendations in January.
Now they're looking for a firm commitment from the city.
[IN Q=We think the city]
((EVELYN BETHEL: WE THINK THE CITY IS MOVING TOO SLOWLY IN THIS RESPECT. AND WHEN YOU CONSIDER ALL OF THE PLANS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CONSIDERED FOR THE CITY AND HOW RAPIDLY THEY'RE MOVING FORWARD, WE BELIEVE THE CITY IS NEGLECTING THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE.))
[OUT Q=neglecting the people who live here.]
City Manager Darlene Burcham was out of the area and unavailable for comment.
But members of the committee will take their plans to city council next week....They're hoping that others who share their concern for Washington Park will join them at the meeting Monday night.
Joe Dashiell News 7 Roanoke))
Ohio Congressman James Traficant is
rejecting a call from House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt to resign
after being convicted on federal corruption charges.
Traficant was convicted yesterday on ALL charges in a 10- count indictment that included bribery and racketeering.
Traficant could get up to 63 years in prison.
The racketeering conviction alone carries a possible 20-year prison sentence and a 250-thousand dollar fine.
The lawmaker also is charged with tax evasion.
In the past, several members of Congress have stayed in office
despite various convictions.
Lynchburg health officials are trying to find out what's causing dozens of students to get sick.
[VO-NAT - :13]
Nearly 80 students and faculty members at Randolph-Macon Woman's College have shown symptoms of a flu-like illness.
So far, there is no evidence of what's causing the sickness, although the school is working closely with health officials.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=So far, we have followed...]
((MICHAEL KISER/RMWC DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS; SO FAR, WE HAVE FOLLOWED EVERY ONE OF THEIR GUIDELINES CLOSELY, WE'RE WORKING VERY WELL WITH THEM, AND I THINK ALL OF US ARE ENCOURAGED TO SEE THAT IT DOES APPEAR THAT THE WORST OF THIS IS BEHIND US.))
((JOANNA HARRIS/LYNCHBURG HEALTH DEPARTMENT; IT CAN BE SPREAD THROUGH FOOD, THROUGH CONTAMINATED FOOD ITSELF, OR BY A FOOD HANDLER WHICH IS INFECTED, RARELY IT'S SPREAD THROUGH WATER, AND IT CAN BE SPREAD PERSON-TO-PERSON.))
[SUPER=01-Michael Kiser/RMWC Director of Media Relations; :00]
[SUPER=01-Joanna Harris/Central Virginia Health District Director; :15]
[OUT Q=spread person-to-person.]
[VO-NAT - :08+]
No new cases of the sickness have been reported to the school since Wednesday. Health officials hope the latest round of tests will point to a cause.
36 schools in Virginia including one in southside are failing to make the grade.
Woodrow Wilson Magnet school in Danville is one school that could be forced to let its students transfer to better schools next year.
The school received an "accredited with warning" rating from the state Department of Education because of low test scores.
Under the new federal "No Child Left Behind" act, parents can send their children to higher rated schools if the numbers don't improve this spring.
Woodrow Wilson is also in danger of losing state funding.
The director of Lynchburg's Academy of Music Theatre is stepping down.
Arnold Breman has served as the executive and artistic director for the Academy of Music for the past year and a half.
The President of the Board of Trustees of the Academy credits Breman's expertise, leadership, and experience for making the Academy's grand preview season a success, and doing in 18 months what the board of directors had hoped to get done in 5 years..
The is no word on what prompted the change.
In this Morning's health Check, some farmers are now choosing to plant genetically engineered crops that were genetically manipulated to develop a natural protection against insects.
But some are worried about the possible consequences.
That was the focus yesterday at a conference at Virginia Tech.
Health Check Reporter Joy Sutton has more.
[IN Q=Farmers are gowing over 100-million acres]
[SUPER=01-Steven Yearley/York University Sociology Professor;]
[OUT Q=for News 7 Mornin']
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=Farmers are growing over 100 million]
((FARMERS ARE GROWING OVER 100-MILLION ACRES OF THESE CROPS. AND THESE CROPS ARE PRIMARILY CORN, SOYBEANS, COTTON, CANOLA. MANY OF THESE CROPS ARE USED AS INTERMEDIATE INGREDIENTS IN MUCH OF THE FOODS WE EAT TODAY ))
[OUT Q=foods we eat today]
Harvey Glick works for a company that makes genetically engineered crops. He says these foods are just as safe as crops grown the traditional way.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=Many of the crops allow]
((MANY OF THE CROPS ALLOW THE FARMER TO USE MUCH LESS CHEMICAL SPRAYS IN THE PRODUCTION AND THAT'S A BENEFIT FOR ALL OF SOCIETY))
[OUT Q=for all society]
Steve Yearly a sociology professor at York University in England-- says many Europeans are not as convinced. They have resisted genetically modified foods.
(///// SOT /////)
(( I THINK THAT TRACES BACK TO FOOD SCARE ABOUT MAD COW DISEASE PEOPLE WERE TOLD REPEATEDLY THAT THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE THAT BEEF WAS GOING TO BE HARMFUL AND SUDDENLY THERE WAS A CHANGE OVER ))
[OUT Q=there was a change over]
He says there is even more concern about the environmental factors.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=You better be sure you know]
(( YOU BETTER BE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES FOR WILDLIFE ARE OR ELSE YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A DEVASTATING EFFECT ON WILDFLOWER,BIRDS, INSECTS AND SO ON ))
[OUT Q=insects and so on]
But Glick says genetically engineered crops might provide environmental benefits.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=When you elimate pestides]
((WHEN YOU ELIMINATE PESTICIDES IN GROWING CROPS YOU FIND MUCH MORE WILDLIFE AND SECONDARY INSECTS THAT USE TO BE HURT BY PESTICIDES ARE NOW RETURNING TO FIELDS ))
There are also genetically engineered crops now being developed with more nutrients like improved oils, proteins and vitamins.
(Kim tosses to Steve)
Governor Mark Warner is scheduled to address a group of 13-thousand teachers in Roanoke later today.
They have gathered for the Virginia Education Association's annual convention.
During the three day event, educators will be briefed on new government guidelines and programs.
Delegates are also addressing their biggest concern... the lack of state funding on education.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=AN IMPORTANT STATISTIC]
((JEAN BANKOS/VEA PRESIDENT: AN IMPORTANT STATISTIC IS WE'RE THE 14TH WEALTHIEST STATE PER CAPITA BUT 45TH COMPARATIVELY IN STATE SPENDING ON PUBLIC EDUCATION. THAT'S A KEY FACTOR. WE NEED TO BALANCE THAT.))
[SUPER=01-Jean Bankos/Virginia Education Association President]
[OUT Q=TO BALANCE THAT.]
The VEA represents 56-thousand teachers across the state.
The Danville school system is looking for a new school superintendent.
Andy Overstreet announced yesterday that he is stepping down as superintendent effective June 30th.
He plans to take a position at North Carolina State University in Raleigh where he'll help establish the new Center For Educational Innovation.
Overstreet has been with the Danville school system for eight years.
The school board will begin the process immediately of hiring a new superintendent.